Research

I currently study the effects of climate change on (mostly forest) ecosystems: past, present, and future. In my current post-doctoral position at the University of Freiburg, I work with provenance trial data (genetic field trials or common gardens) to assess species’ sensitivity to suboptimal growing conditions, similar to those expected under climate change. I am also constantly interested in developing methodologies for statistical modelling.

More specifics below…


Effective methods for statistical modelling
I am currently testing cross-validation methods for model selection and model averaging, particularly with autocorrelated or structured data. The first part of my PhD research was also dedicated to testing different species distribution modelling approaches and statistical techniques, as well as comparing species- and community-based models.

Provenance trial data as climate change experiments
I analyse genetic field trials (a.k.a. common gardens or provenance trials) of North American trees in Europe to assess the effects of suboptimality on growth and survival. The movement and tracking of genetic populations outside their native range can guide inference on species’ tolerances to environmental change.

Adaptive reforestation stocks
The goal of the AdapTree project is to create an adaptive portfolio of reforestation stocks for future climates. I am specifically interested in assessing vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities of local populations to climate change. Landscape-level metrics like climate change velocity, etc. can contribute to prioritisation of populations for conservation and management.

Historical biogeography of North American trees
The second part of my PhD research was based on reconstructing the historic ranges of North American trees since the last glaciation, ca. 21,000 years ago. Using species distribution models, I reconstructed past species habitats and potential post-glacial migration patterns. I also compared these patterns to measures of genetic diversity to assess the links between glacial range (refugia) and post-glacial migration and modern genetic structure.

Post-glacial and future migration and gene flow rates
The third part of my PhD research was based on comparisons of future migration rates among locally-adapted populations of present-day North American trees. The goal of this research was to assess the vulnerability of local populations to climate change based on the proximity of suitably-adapted genetic material to their projected future ranges. The applications of this calculation included identifying populations of genetic conservation concern as well as prioritizing planting stock for assisted migration or assisted gene flow. I also compared required future migration rates to calculated post-glacial migration rates to assess the speed and quality of migration patterns in the past and future.